Innovation That Matters

Batteries that dissolve in water

Sport & Fitness

Iowa State scientists develop transient batteries with important potential medical and environmental applications.

Transient electronics is an increasingly significant area of research developing devices that work until exposure to light, heat or liquid cause them to degrade. Back in 2012 we wrote about transient electronics that dissolve in a patient’s body. Now, Iowa State University scientists have developed a transient battery that is the first of its kind, and able to demonstrate a reasonable amount of stability as well as power.

The device is a self-destructing, lithium-ion battery capable of delivering 2.5 volts of power and dissolving or dissipating in 30 minutes when dropped in water. Scientists involved in the research explains that “A key and unique attribute of transient electronics is to operate over a typically short and well-defined period, and undergo fast and, ideally, complete self-deconstruction.” The battery contains nanoparticles that don’t actually degrade, but instead disperse as the battery’s casing breaks the electrodes apart. The battery itself is tiny: about 1 millimeter thick; 5 millimeters long; and 6 millimeters wide and can power a desktop calculator for about 15 minutes.

The technology could keep enemies from discovering intelligence secrets, save patients from the pain of needing to remove medical devices, or allow environmental sensors to wash away in the rain. How else could this technology be applied?



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